The pandemic constrained businesses from most industries to accelerate digital transformation, in order to meet the changing demands of their customers, and be able to offer them faster and better services.
In fact, according to the “Global e-Commerce Logistics Market 2020-2024” report, the global eCommerce logistics market is set to grow by $100.63 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 12% during the forecast period. Logistics is a vital component for eCommerce companies because it bears the responsibility of delivering the goods and products from the manufacturer to the end consumer.
Logistics is a very complex industry that involves a lot of well coordinated procedures, such as processing orders, inventory, scheduling and tracking delivery. If so far all of these high-volume, repetitive processes were performed manually, automation proves to be a real game-changer for the future of the industry.
When performing monotonous, mundane tasks, humans naturally become prone to errors, which could lead to delays and operational inefficiency, but robotic process automation (RPA) is here to change the way logistics companies do business, enhancing the accuracy of their processes.
Generally speaking, RPA is suitable for rule-based, repetitive, low complexity and manual activities. Some of the most important benefits of RPA in supply chain and logistics are:
- cost and time saving
- higher efficiency
- non-stop availability
- reduced risk of errors
- better customer experience
- smoother workflows
- easy implementation
- higher level of employees’ productivity
- better business outcomes
A relevant example of these benefits is the case of Posti Group, the main postal service delivering mail and parcels in Finland wanted to replace time-consuming tasks that prevented employees from spending more time with customers. Using UiPath software robots in departments like Finance, Human Resources, Sales Support, Logistics and Customer Service was a huge success for the company: invoicing processes were improved, while costs were reduced.
Most importantly, RPA allowed employees to focus on more meaningful work. Therefore, the company tripled its target goal for automation in 2019 and expects to continue at the same pace or even exceed it in the following years.
Another relevant example is DHL Global Forwarding, freight (DGFF), who selected UiPath as a partner to create a global process automation hub, aiming to use RPA to streamline internal processes.
Return on Investment (ROI) was achieved in just one month and the company was able to take half of its employees off a particular manual-based process as a pilot. Thus, 50% of internal resources are now available to focus on more value-adding tasks.
As for improving both customer satisfaction and employee productivity, due to just one attended software robot, Expo Group reduced the time spent on inefficient tasks from 8.35 hours every day to 48 minutes, meaning total savings of 87.23% of working hours. By implementing RPA, the company also reduced error rates by 99.97%.
Find out more about the benefits of RPA in logistics from our case study about TCE Logistic, a company that needed to automate order processes from 3 warehouses. We built Corry, a software robot using the UiPath Platform that saves the company more than 10 hours every day and reduces human errors to zero.
RPA use cases in supply chain and logistics
Let’s take a look at a list of the most relevant RPA use cases for the supply chain and logistics:
1. Order management
In the supply chain and logistics industry, every process has to be very precise to achieve overall success of the business, so order management has a vital role.
Depending on the size of the company, hundreds or even thousands of orders have to be reviewed daily before proceeding with the shipping and invoice processes, but doing this manually can turn into a nightmare fairly quickly.
Using RPA in the supply chain, you can automate this whole process, using a wide range of criteria such as pricing, quantity and regularity of purchase. In case of any mismatches, the software robots can send notifications to employees to review the order – but this happens only for a very small percentage of the orders.
For example, Rudolph is a software robot built by us on the UiPath platform for a toy retailer. Its role is to process the orders that Ara Toys get from their clients, to confirm that they are in stock and to make sure they are delivered on time. By doing this, automation saves Ara Toys hours of manual work every single day. Find out more about how Rudolph can help processing orders for Ara Toys from our video case study.
2. Inventory management
Inventory monitoring is another important element of the core business of logistics in order to align the demand with the available products.
Since it requires tracking a large amount of data, robotic process automation in supply chain and logistics can monitor the remaining quantity of the products, send a notification to the responsible employee and, at the same time, order new shipments when needed.
Software robots can optimize the whole inventory management process by tracking inventory from the time products are received, to shelves, and then shipping.
3. Planning of the supply and demand
This process requires analyzing reports and a huge amount of diverse data from the market, suppliers, customers and from the company itself. These tasks are very time-consuming and require a high level of attention from human workers, which puts them at risk of generating errors.
RPA can perform these activities faster and without mistakes, by gathering, storing and preparing data and then by delivering it in a complex report. Thus, managers can efficiently plan the supply and demand.
4. Invoice management
Invoice management requires high-volume tasks involving tracking and entering a significant amount of data – which makes it suitable for automation.
RPA can process invoice documents from suppliers much easier, faster and reduce the risks of error to zero.
As a UiPath partner, we built for a software robot named Piscot for Ana Pan, to help the company process orders from supermarkets. The robot adds the order in the ERP software, sends the baked goods into production and sets the date and time for delivery to the supermarkets.
Using Piscot, the company reduced the cost and time it takes to input invoices into their system – each month Piscot is saving Ana Pan 60 hours of labor work for one person while reducing errors to zero. Watch Piscot in action in our video case study.
5. Customer satisfaction
This is an important ingredient in every business and industry, as customers need to be well informed about the status of their orders. Thanks to automation, emails and notifications can be sent to customers during the whole process, from the moment the order is processed, shipped or delayed.
Summing up, robotic process automation can facilitate maintaining a better customer experience for the supply chain and logistics industry.
As we have uncovered above, this industry is based on a significant amount of repetitive, high-volume, and tedious tasks. Now is time to consider adopting technology at a higher level than before, and to leverage the benefits of supply chain and logistics automation.
Robotic process automation is able to perform repetitive tasks with a visible ROI while enabling the human workforce to handle more important activities for the company. Software robots are the best solution to increase efficiency, productivity and ultimately the financial indicators of the business.
This article is part of a series containing a list of the most common and relevant use cases of RPA for several key industries, such as HR, finance and accounting, marketing, and more.